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The Big Deal: Maritime Dining Rooms

Ocassional series on how to treat yourself without incurring a financial wobble. This time: Afternoon tea takes the biscuit

Published on February 24th 2010.

The Big Deal: Maritime Dining Rooms

Fancy that: Just when the all the greeting card makers/florists/chocolatiers/hotels and restaurants in the land are counting the filthy flirty lucre they made on Valentine's Day, here comes Mother's Day to capture anyone left of the population. There has to be a way of keeping those big money balls rolling before Easter and the kids' turn kicks in.

Oh we are a cynical lot. But away from modern commercialism, what's on offer in the way of a good old fashioned treat for your mum come the day? Breakfast in bed? Or what about afternoon tea?

We're not talking about really slummy, stop-out-all-night mummies for whom breakfast in bed and afternoon tea are interchangeable. No, we are talking about a main event in surroundings with stunning views.

Where better than? The Maritime Dining Rooms entertained Liverpool Confidential with a full afternoon tea at the weekend. Ships, earl grey and a mountain of toothsome naughtiness - who could resist?

What's the deal? Like the ornate cake-stand that turns up, there are three tiers. Light afternoon tea (sandwiches, scones and tea) @ £6, or £11 for two; afternoon tea (the same but with cakes) @ £7 or £12 for two; the full Monty (all that but add home made biscuits and patisserie) Min two people @ £15.

Location Location: Sitting on the top floor of the Maritime Museum, this is a big barn of a room. To the south, excellent prospects of the Jesse Hartley Grade I -listed Albert Dock warehouses. Beware vertigo: its choppy waters are a sheer drop below. To the north, the X-Box Museum of Liverpool.

Next to that, Stealth Towers, aka the Neptune buildings with their blackened out windows. Or as one wag recently remarked: “If they could drive around Huyton, they would.”

Civil service? Very efficient and knowledgeable. Expect to feel special but not fawned over. It's Michelin recommended this year don't you know?

Who's in there? Young luvvie dovey student types on a date, tourists in the know and older people, although the MDR is keen to plug its menus for families and they do serve a lot of other stuff.

What you get? Pop art meets pot art. Take a loose leaf out of the tea menu which consists of Darjeeling, Earl Grey and “scouse breakfast” (ahem) all served up in funky, brightly coloured vessels for a brew that it true. For those who prefer to sip a more delicate infusion, try green, Moroccan mint and jasmine dragon pearls.

Savoury: The aforementioned majestic cake-stand groans with treats all made from scratch right here. Finger sandwiches, on this occasion, were filled with meaty smoked salmon and lemon, Cheshire ham and mustard, and cucumber and Delamere goats' curd on thick slices of springy granary bread. Locally sourced, they might also tick the good-for-you boxes, but what follows does not.

Sweet: Crumbly scones with plum conserve and rich clotted cream, spicy tea bread, delicate lemon cake, fudge fondants, excellent shortbread and a chocolate brownie that was so intense that it made us all feel strangely dizzy. We assumed it was the cocoa hit, anyway, and that nothing else Moroccan had slipped in there.

Feeling fizzy? Try a quarter bottle of Prosecco Astoria Lounge for £6.95, or to hell with the rest of the day and take the bottle for £19.20.

What's in it for me? An impressive spread for your dosh. If you do take your mum, bear in mind that she will be so taken with both the pleasant nature of the surroundings, the quality of the food and your thoughtfulness, that she'll sign over the family silver to you straight after. So hey, it's a win-win.

Verdict: Stuck in the Albert Dock? Skipped lunch? This is one of the best hidden alternatives, that we can think of, to the chain coffee shops and fast food outlets lurking in wait for the trippers' dollar below.

Where again? Maritime Dining Rooms, 4th Floor, Maritime Museum, Albert Dock, L3. 0151 478 4056. Open until 5pm, seven days.

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